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Saturday, January 14, 2017

"nearly as good"

Those reviewing A Sea of Skulls should really be a little more careful. Such positive reviews bid fair to cause more than a few SF-SJWs to stroke out. Didact's Reach reviews A Sea of Skulls and finds it to be rather better than one might expect:
If the critics found ATOB a bit difficult to stomach because it proved to be such an effective demonstration of what a (supposedly) less skilled but (definitely) more disciplined writer could do when compared with GRRM's declining powers, they are going to very quickly find that A Sea of Skulls will be an even bigger shock to their worldview.

For with this book, Vox Day has not merely matched George R. R. Martin's fantasy writing skills and output. He has exceeded him, by miles, leaving old Rape Rape wheezing and panting in the dust.

In fact, I am willing to go so far as to argue that, with this book, Vox Day has catapulted himself into the storied and rarefied rank of writers that sits just below The Master himself.

That's right, I went there. I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien's work.

Not as good. But not terribly far off, either.

From one fantasy fan to another, praise simply does not come any higher than that....

This book is, quite simply, an extraordinary achievement. With it, Vox has separated himself from all of his contemporary rivals and has clearly laid down a marker for everyone else to match- and I personally don't think anyone will be able to do so for years, maybe decades, to come. What he has written here is far more than merely a great book. It is a masterclass of what high fantasy could actually be.
That's just an excerpt. Read the whole thing there. Of course, what may be the biggest testimony in favor of the growing consensus that the ARTS OF DARK AND LIGHT series has unexpectedly become the best epic fantasy series going is the total silence on the part of those who usually don't hesitate to speak out critically every time I recommend a book, or, in some cases, exhale. Just as SF/F sites like Black Gate and File 770 inexplicably have nothing to say about many of the very best-selling authors in science fiction, SF authors such as Vaughn Heppner and B.V. Larson, who have sold literal millions of books, they are silent on the subject of a massive epic fantasy saga that some readers now consider to be the best to have appeared in decades.

Now, I am under absolutely no illusion that my work will ever reach the lofty height of Tolkien's. It can't. It won't. Tolkien's grasp of history, myth, and language are deeper than mine, and the greatness of his work reflects that. The Lord of the Rings is the greatest work of science fiction and fantasy fiction, and, based on my extensive reading of fiction dating back to Homer and the Lady Murasaki, it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

But that does not mean that it cannot be exceeded in various areas, some of which happen to be particular strengths of mine. The martial aspects, the magic systems, the politics, and the socio-sexuality are all elements that can be improved upon. Even the philosophy of evil, in my estimation, is rather on the thin side; who would actually want to serve Sauron? I never found Saruman's switching sides to be terribly convincing; yes, everyone wants to be on the winning side, but what is the point of being a lieutenant of evil if it requires living in squalor surrounded by orcs?

If nothing else, elf chicks are hotter. So are human chicks, and, arguably, dwarf chicks, for that matter. Is living in a mud pit surrounded by howling, bestial orcs really the way a quasi-immortal wants to spend the rest of his days? I'm just not seeing a credible motivation there.

And let's not even get started on the whole "fly in on a squadron of eagles and drop the One Ring in Mount Doom" strategy.

Anyhow, it's very flattering, and encouraging, to see the latest installment in the series has been so well-received. Fans needn't be concerned that any such praise will go to my head, as to the contrary, it has inspired me to buckle down, grit my teeth, and try to raise my game even more. When even those who openly detest me are willing to admit that AODAL is markedly better than ASOIAF and genuinely merits comparison to The Lord of the Rings, then perhaps I'll be willing to contemplate a little coasting.

In the meantime, I have about another one million words to write before AODAL will be finished. The only proper verdict at this point is: it's too soon to tell. I'm barely one-third of the way through the monster. I expect it will be around 1,660,000 words in the end.

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71 Comments:

Anonymous VFM #0265 January 14, 2017 8:28 AM  

Excellent review. I'm waiting until you're finished with A Sea of Skulls before buynig it in its entirety. I'll be busy re-reading SJW's Always Lie, as at present, I have a person at work engaging in the personal politics of self destruction. But armed with SJWAL, I stand a solid chance of beating this unexpected enemy. Thanks for the effective weapons, Your Supreme Dark Excellency. *bows deeply in dread respect*

Blogger Joshua_D January 14, 2017 8:40 AM  

I thought ATOB was a great read and fantastic story. You had me worried there for a while that we wouldn't ever see A Sea of Skulls. Like #0265, I'm waiting for ASOS to be finished, and then I'll buy a hard copy to go along with my hard copy of ATOB. Thanks for keeping the story going. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

OpenID brefaucheux January 14, 2017 8:46 AM  

What a fantastic review! 1,660,000 words? Holy crap! And here I thought my current WIP was long. How long does it take you to write one book in a series like that?

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 8:51 AM  

How long does it take you to write one book in a series like that?

So far, the minimum is 394 days for 297,500 words. The maximum is four years and counting....

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 8:53 AM  

I don't think some of you understand that telling me "I'm waiting to buy ASOS" is tantamount to telling me "finish SJWADD first".

I don't mind people waiting, for whatever reason, and I can certainly appreciate that there are those who prefer print to electronic. I have no problem with that. I've had some people actually tell me that they're looking forward to reading the whole AODAL series when it is finished, because they don't like reading a series until it is complete.

But the fact is that writing is a business. And if the fans of one series aren't going to buy it while the other fans are, guess which series it makes sense to prioritize?

Blogger Dave January 14, 2017 8:55 AM  

but what is the point of being a lieutenant of evil if it requires living in squalor surrounded by orcs?

Soros does not live in squalor. The Clintons do not live in squalor. The SDL does not live in squalor.

Blogger Stilicho January 14, 2017 8:58 AM  

Any timeline on print edition?

Anonymous VFM 6184 January 14, 2017 9:00 AM  

That is great, congrats! I really enjoyed ATOB, glad to see you taking it up to its potential. I have been wavering on waiting for ASOS to be completed, I might just have to grab it.

Agreed on Tolkien, overall hard to beat, but in certain areas it can be improved upon. I always wondered how Sauron's economic and industrial infrastructure could sustain warfare, beyond the "work or die, phase"

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 9:02 AM  

Any timeline on print edition?

I would guess May, but it's not carved in stone. We have a LOT to do.

Blogger L' Aristokrato January 14, 2017 9:06 AM  

"Is living in a mud pit surrounded by howling, bestial orcs really the way a quasi-immortal wants to spend the rest of his days? I'm just not seeing a credible motivation there."

Maybe Saruman was a Cuckservative... At least you can't call him racist.

Blogger wreckage January 14, 2017 9:15 AM  

I think the thing about Saruman is he was seduced by the whole "March of History" idea, to the extent that his conviction of the rationality of Sauron blinded him to the reality. Just a fan theory based on a detestation of Marx.

I find you a very strange experience, Vox; one minute I agree heartily, the next I am shrinking away from your statements and sentiments.

Which is why I was surprised by how empathetic your characters are. I am very much enjoying the complex interplay of motives, emotions and relationships. I have to say that I think your craftsmanship in that respect is some of the best I have ever seen in genre fiction.

Blogger Rusty Fife January 14, 2017 9:21 AM  

L' Aristokrato wrote:"Is living in a mud pit surrounded by howling, bestial orcs really the way a quasi-immortal wants to spend the rest of his days? I'm just not seeing a credible motivation there."

Maybe Saruman was a Cuckservative... At least you can't call him racist.


So you're saying it was for the vibrant restaurant experience?

Blogger wreckage January 14, 2017 9:22 AM  

Oh, I also liked the historical impasse of Amorr. The alluded-to intractability of Empire makes compelling drama out of a dry historical question.

I like that you don't telegraph your punches; unlike the political currents in, say, Terry Goodkind, where you just have to spot the Objectivist theory applicable to a given moment to know what's going to either fall into disaster or save the day, I have been genuinely left in suspense as to what's going to happen to Church politics, Amorran hegemony, or even sorcery itself. Top marks for portraying moral certainty in society without necessarily handing out the Word of Author/God True Stamp of Trueness (TM).

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 9:28 AM  

Which is why I was surprised by how empathetic your characters are.

I'm not a sociopath. My mother had me tested.

Of course, it is not the sadistic torturer one should fear most, but the one who weeps as he works.

Blogger Dave January 14, 2017 9:36 AM  

I've heard that you work hand in hand with your editor. Does this affect your output as an author spending time editing yourself instead of writing?

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 9:42 AM  

ASOS was not edited by anyone else. ATOB was edited by Scott Gerke. There were costs and benefits to both approaches. My time editing others does cut moderately into my ability to write. Not so much the time per se as the intellectual energy it uses up.

Blogger Doug Cranmer January 14, 2017 9:45 AM  

The link "the whole thing ther" is missing the final "e". Well done otherwise.

Blogger wreckage January 14, 2017 10:00 AM  

"Of course, it is not the sadistic torturer one should fear most, but the one who weeps as he works."

Top shelf!

The man who will kill you to get into Heaven is much less dangerous than the man who will kill you though it damn him to Hell.

That's my personal theory on the historical performance of Christian versus Muslim armies.

Blogger Hauen Holzwanderer January 14, 2017 10:24 AM  

"I'm not a sociopath. My mother had me tested"

Now that's a meme or T-shirt worthy phrase if there ever was one.

Blogger Dave January 14, 2017 10:26 AM  

I knew you self-edited ASOS but wondered if someone else was to edit your books would allow you more time to write. Of course, bringing another editor in now could be counterproductive.

I do not want to see you stop editing CH authors as it's been working well and they seem to regard it positively.

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 10:29 AM  

I knew you self-edited ASOS but wondered if someone else was to edit your books would allow you more time to write.

Definitely the opposite. ASOS is as close to unedited raw text as you're ever likely to see outside of the self-published amateur. It had one - admittedly very good - proofreader and a grand total of two alpha readers.

Blogger WarKicker January 14, 2017 10:33 AM  

I quite agree with Didact's review and I don't think his comments regarding Vox's evolution as a writer an overstatement. His writing is good enough for me to look forward to investing the last two hours of my day consuming ATOB and ASOS. Simply epic and magnificent! The fact that I have my hardcopy of ATOB sitting on the same book shelf next to almost all the works of Tolkien (many volumes of which are collector's items) is not just because that's the "fantasy shelf", but reflects my respect for these authors. A hard copy of ASOS would be another nice addition.

Blogger Mr. B.A.D. January 14, 2017 11:10 AM  

How long have you been planning Bassarius' mini sermon on breeding?

Anonymous VFM 6184 January 14, 2017 11:11 AM  

"But the fact is that writing is a business"

Hear hear! Thanks for the reminder. I just bought my copy on Amazon.

I'll just get the dead tree format later.

Blogger buwaya January 14, 2017 11:17 AM  

Short, short comments -
I read ASOS in just a couple of sittings, it was that compelling, at least to my taste. It definitely is mind candy for a certain kind of mind.
You have improved a lot stylistically from "Summa Elvetica", including your dialogue, which still needs help though. But the main reason to read your work is the alternate literary quality of context. A lot of both ATOB and ASOS read like setups for wargames, clear expositions of strategic and tactical situations. This pleases me. Its why one reads "United States Naval Operations in World War II". Doing this in and as a novel is a feature of much old SF also, and you do it very very well.
You are also very good at action, as so many have noticed, and so far pacing is rapid. It really is a page-turner.
And there is the matter of realism, or, again, the context. What would you notice, or worry about, if you were flying about on giant magic birds? Mechanics, technique, logistics and maintenance concerns. Works well.
Whats not there, quite, is style, invention and character. You steal from many of the best of course (Colleen McCullough?), but the top of the game, besides Tolkien, is the sort of thing Gene Wolfe was doing.
But you are doing something else, and that works too. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Blogger SteelPalm January 14, 2017 11:21 AM  

While it's a great fantasy series and peerless in terms of influence, I definitely believe that Lord of the Rings has been surpassed by others.

For instance, my own favorite epic fantasy series is King's The Dark Tower. (And I'm not a big fan of his work overall)

Curious what Vox thinks about it, as a writer in the genre?

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr January 14, 2017 11:32 AM  

ATOB is outstanding, ASOS I'm reserving judgement on until I read the final release. The current version is good but clearly incomplete.

Selenoth isn't as elegantly written as Tolkien's work, but the world-building is rock solid. Impressive.

One thing I'd like to see would be recommended background reading. I would up buying a book on the Roman Social Wars after reading ATOB, I think other readers would find it interesting. The piece on Roman/Amorran naming conventions in ATOB is a marvel of clarity, I'd copy it as a handout were I teaching a class on Roman history.

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 11:36 AM  

Curious what Vox thinks about it, as a writer in the genre?

Never read it. I'm not a Stephen King fan. The two or three works I've read of his struck me as being desperately in need of an editor.

Blogger L' Aristokrato January 14, 2017 12:22 PM  

"Never read it. I'm not a Stephen King fan. The two or three works I've read of his struck me as being desperately in need of an editor."

Well, it's a thrilling tale that takes place in rural Maine. It's about an alcoholic writer whith marital problems who teams up with a disabled child with psychic powers to fight against a mysterious otherworldly force and their respective childhood bullies.

Anonymous Revan January 14, 2017 12:24 PM  

Would you consider releasing an author's cut of ATOB as you would have released it? I know you has to make some compromises with your editor and I would be interested in reading the content that was cut.

Blogger SteelPalm January 14, 2017 12:25 PM  

Never read it. I'm not a Stephen King fan. The two or three works I've read of his struck me as being desperately in need of an editor.

I feel the same way about him overall.

However, the Dark Tower is a notable exception, and very different from most of his other works. I would definitely encourage you to at least read the first two works in the series. (Although #3, #4, and #7 are likely the apex)

Blogger SteelPalm January 14, 2017 12:26 PM  

Well, it's a thrilling tale that takes place in rural Maine. It's about an alcoholic writer whith marital problems who teams up with a disabled child with psychic powers to fight against a mysterious otherworldly force and their respective childhood bullies.

I hope you're trolling.

Blogger Bogey January 14, 2017 12:34 PM  

I like the political intrigue in Game of Thrones, does this series have that type of stuff in it? Is there a large cast of characters?

Anonymous BBGKB January 14, 2017 12:38 PM  

Even the philosophy of evil, in my estimation, is rather on the thin side; who would actually want to serve Sauron?

Change Sauron to Soros and its either the way Meerfin the goblin got suckered into it or the branded orc.

the socio-sexuality are all elements that can be improved upon

In the 3rd volume will Rooshv fly in on eagles to save everyone from putting elf chicks on pedestals?

what is the point of being a lieutenant of evil if it requires living in squalor surrounded by orcs?

The smell of NYC doesn't bother you after a few days. Podesta's emails show the DC uses the same blood magic of the orcs.

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 12:42 PM  

Would you consider releasing an author's cut of ATOB as you would have released it?

Couldn't even if I was inclined to waste time looking backward. That was a long time ago.

I like the political intrigue in Game of Thrones, does this series have that type of stuff in it? Is there a large cast of characters?

Yes. And yes. Considerably less rape and incest, though.

Blogger Aeoli Pera January 14, 2017 12:44 PM  

Come on Vox, you can hit six million words! It just takes dedication and a bit of logistics.

I thought the Dark Tower was good, not great. There's great stuff in it that stuck with me (the tower myth itself) but I've forgotten most of it.

Anonymous Rien January 14, 2017 12:45 PM  

I have only read ATOB so far.
I like it a lot, but what is IMO more, is that ATOB can sit on a shelve and can be read in 50 years by my grandchildren and they will (IMO) be able to enjoy it because it is timeless. Not the writing style, but the story.
Many stories out there today are impossible to read in as little as 10 years time... why bother with them?

Blogger BassmanCO January 14, 2017 1:05 PM  

I read the first book in the Dark Tower series and stopped. Three hundred pages of setting up the world with NOTHING happening. Every person I spoke with said, "Oh, it gets better after that!" If it takes an author 300 pages of a book to setup his series for something to happen, I am not reading that series.

Stephen King is very hit or miss. Salem's Lot was amazing. A lot of his short story collections were great. But a bunch of his stuff is bloated with navel gazing crap.

Blogger S. Thermite January 14, 2017 1:10 PM  

I don't think some of you understand that telling me "I'm waiting to buy ASOS" is tantamount to telling me "finish SJWADD first...the fact is that writing is a business. And if the fans of one series aren't going to buy it while the other fans are, guess which series it makes sense to prioritize?

Such an obvious point that I'd completely missed...should've been all the more obvious because your non-fiction books are also shorter and quicker to write. Then again, you may have previously given the impression that writering fantasy fiction is a hobby you do for pleasure and your own amusement. Regardless, Amazon now has $5.99 more from my Visa account than they did 10 minutes ago.

Blogger VFM #7634 January 14, 2017 1:21 PM  

Even the philosophy of evil, in my estimation, is rather on the thin side; who would actually want to serve Sauron? I never found Saruman's switching sides to be terribly convincing; yes, everyone wants to be on the winning side, but what is the point of being a lieutenant of evil if it requires living in squalor surrounded by orcs?

If nothing else, elf chicks are hotter. So are human chicks, and, arguably, dwarf chicks, for that matter. Is living in a mud pit surrounded by howling, bestial orcs really the way a quasi-immortal wants to spend the rest of his days? I'm just not seeing a credible motivation there.


I don't see a credible motivation for European and Jewish elites insisting on flooding Europe and the West in general with Muslims and Africans (let alone the alleged Coudenhove-Kalergi Plan), but they're doing it regardless.

I guess Tolkien understood how evil elites think, even if he found it as mad as the rest of us.

Blogger SteelPalm January 14, 2017 1:23 PM  

@38 Every person I spoke with said, "Oh, it gets better after that!"

How did you manage to read Lord of the Rings, then? The Fellowship of the Ring is way slower-paced than the first Dark Tower.

Although those people aren't lying; while I thought The Gunslinger (Dark Tower #1) was very good, it's inferior to the next works in the series.

And it's only about 200 pages, not 300.

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 1:26 PM  

Then again, you may have previously given the impression that writering fantasy fiction is a hobby you do for pleasure and your own amusement. Regardless, Amazon now has $5.99 more from my Visa account than they did 10 minutes ago.

I do. I would finish AODAL even if I never published any of it. But I wouldn't press through to get it all together and cleaned up for release either.

And thanks... I hope you'll review it.

Anonymous Just another commenter January 14, 2017 1:43 PM  

I found ATOB to be a compelling read. Interesting characters with believable motivations who are true to their background, breeding, and personality. Somewhat unpredictable twists. Main part that annoyed me was being left hanging at the end (well, it is part of a planned trilogy, so that's understandable), and the "suddenly thousands of men, with the help of some dwarfs, travel for ~600 miles underground, totally undetected." Er, air? Supplies? Vibrations? Disease from close quarters? Unless there were at least a nod toward using an extensive network of existing large tunnels, or there is serious dwarf-magic WRT tunneling, that strained believability. Otherwise, most excellent, though I could see how a lower IQ sort that didn't get all the references and Roman/Latin allusions and conventions might have gotten confused by some of the stylistic things.

Anonymous 5343 Kinds of Deplorable January 14, 2017 1:45 PM  

However, the Dark Tower is a notable exception, and very different from most of his other works. I would definitely encourage you to at least read the first two works in the series.

Meh. The ending sucked. Long, LONG way to go for another bloody ouroboros. Some of the middle was kinda cool.

And it, too, coulda used an editor with a chainsaw.

Blogger 1337kestrel January 14, 2017 1:50 PM  

Hmm... I'm waiting more for the final cut than I am for the HC. I want the hardcover but it's physically easier to read the kindle version of the these monsters.

Blogger 1337kestrel January 14, 2017 1:53 PM  

I read one of the dark tower books.... the whole book was about some chick being sexually harassed and a witch masturbating with a snake. Also rumors of war. I don't remember anything interesting happening.

Anonymous LurkingPuppy January 14, 2017 2:01 PM  

Just another commenter wrote:Main part that annoyed me was being left hanging at the end (well, it is part of a planned trilogy, so that's understandable), and the "suddenly thousands of men, with the help of some dwarfs, travel for ~600 miles underground, totally undetected." Er, air? Supplies? Vibrations? Disease from close quarters? Unless there were at least a nod toward using an extensive network of existing large tunnels, or there is serious dwarf-magic WRT tunneling, that strained believability.
The dwarf tunnels did already exist, the dwarves do have tunneling magic, and the men did suffer from the process of travelling through dwarfland. As for being undetected, (a) the legion only had to get to the tunnel entrance in order to escape their pursuers, (b) they didn't need to be undetected after entering the tunnel, and (c) the humans who were chasing that legion don't have the technology or magic to detect anything happening underground, so staying undetected was not a challenge.

Blogger John Wright January 14, 2017 2:08 PM  

Congratulations. One of the pleasures unique to writing is a favorable review from a review whose judgment one respects. High praise indeed! Well done.

I fear I shall have to redouble my efforts in order to remain on the receiving end of similar compliments coming from you.

Blogger John Wright January 14, 2017 2:16 PM  

" I never found Saruman's switching sides to be terribly convincing; yes, everyone wants to be on the winning side, but what is the point of being a lieutenant of evil if it requires living in squalor surrounded by orcs?"

I feel the same way about the lieutenant's of Mao and Lenin. The Nazi were snappy dressers in their black uniforms, with their rocket planes and titanic ast-deco statues of Roman eagles: the Commies in their pajamas with their squalid mass graves and Siberian work-camps not so much.

But we never do get to see the inside of the gold-drenched suite of office of the Mouth of Sauron in the glorious soaring architecture of Barad Dur, or the lush harems of the Corsairs of the Umbar, and such. The orcs were just the infantry. The haunted and windowless mausoleums where the Ringwraiths lingered when they were not out riding or flying might have been as well decorated as a Pharaoh's tomb or a Mexican pyramid.

Blogger John Wright January 14, 2017 2:23 PM  

@8

"I always wondered how Sauron's economic and industrial infrastructure could sustain warfare, beyond the "work or die" phase."

It is very briefly mentioned in one scene (where Sam is reflecting on this very question) that Sauron takes in tribute from plantations and cities to the south and east, in the conquered lands of Southrons and Haradrim, who serve and worship him. And give him Oliphaunts.

Sam sees a soldier of the Southrons die near him, a dusky fellow with gold rings in his ears. This guy, at least, had some bling.

So at a guess, Sauron's economy worked the same as the warfare economy of the Muslims during the Middle Ages, when they besieged Constantinople: conquering fertile lands that had once been Gondorian, and exacting tribute.

OpenID peppermintfrosted January 14, 2017 2:26 PM  

Saruman was sent by the Valar to stop Sauron, studied Sauron's craft, and decided that the best thing he could do for Middle-Earth was control it instead of destroying it.

Sauron was summoned by the Valar after they destroyed a good portion of Middle-Earth trying to stop Morgoth, but stayed in Middle-Earth trying to fix things in hope of clemency before deciding to take direct control.

Morgoth wanted to create stuff like Illuvatar did, but didn't understand how and could only twist Elves into Orcs.

Tolkien's conception of evil was to try to control and force what you don't really understand.

Communists don't understand that to each according to needs is the result of plenty and destroy plenty. Libertarians don't understand that liberty is the result of having an orderly nation and destroy orderly nations. The German nationalists of the last century were correct that the German gene pool is great and thought they could force it to be better with the lebensborn cuckoldry. Americans thought they could force Iraq and Afghanistan to be nations like America.

Sauron probably knew that Saruman was always going to try to take over from him, but humored Saruman because Saruman was materially acting against the interests of the other good guys.

Anonymous EH January 14, 2017 2:33 PM  

"Magic systems" is an interesting field which almost no one does well. There have been lots of authors over the past 20 or 30 years who have sold lots of books with completely incoherent magical systems, particularly the whole urban fantasy genre and Harry Potter. Earlier eras did better. Heinein's "Magic, Inc." was an early great, as were de Camp and Pratt's Harold Shea / "Incomplete Enchanter" stories. Zelazny was a later master with Lord of Light, Isle of the Dead, and the Amber books, particularly shadow-walking, the polarity between the Pattern and the chaos-Logrus , and the magic computer, Ghostwheel. Brust's Taltos series did a good job also with his conception of orderly Orb-magic vs. witchcraft and coherent magical world. By far the most comprehensive treatment of alternate magical theories that I have read, though, was John Wright's Orphans of Chaos series, with each of the young Titan protagonists having a radically different basis for their powers.

There is still a lot of unexplored territory, the Franz Bardon magical system in particular could be used in fiction with little trouble. The link above doesn't get into Bardon's Key to the True Quabalah, which is a training in synesthesia using a western alphabet. It isn't a much known system, being extremely complex and presented in a prolix Germanic style from a nearly unedited first draft. That complexity gives lots of room for authors who need to make or prevent magic from working according to the needs of the story without appearing to be completely arbitrary. This induced synesthesia associates each letter with nine other simultaneously experienced qualities: color and anatomy (both different for each letter), feeling (penetrating, hot, cold, heavy, easy / 5 elements, sometimes in combinations), body region (head, chest, abdomen, legs / 4 elements, sometimes in combinations), musical note (10 notes), number (0 to 9, 10 to 90, 200, 300, 400), and a concept/meaning associated with each letter. All these qualities must be experienced simultaneously to pronounce a single letter, and must be pronounced simultaneously with the physical, astral, and mental bodies (body, spirit and soul) from one of the four planes, and its effects directed to one of four planes by whether it is pictured as fate, thought, shape or shape and duration. Using multiple letters is even more complicated.

Some authors have used some aspects of this, but Bardon gives a complex yet coherent magical system that nobody has yet borrowed for fiction.

Blogger VD January 14, 2017 2:33 PM  

Er, air? Supplies? Vibrations? Disease from close quarters? Unless there were at least a nod toward using an extensive network of existing large tunnels, or there is serious dwarf-magic WRT tunneling, that strained believability.

You really need to read ASOS....

And did you somehow miss the dwarven guides at the end? The Dwarroways have been an important part of the lore since A Magic Broken.

Blogger BassmanCO January 14, 2017 2:34 PM  

SteelPalm, if you thought the first Dark Tower book was excellent, then we have nothing to discuss. Taste is taste. My wife liked the Twilight series, but I couldn't get past the first book (and then only because I was reading it as a writer to understand the market).

Anonymous BBGKB January 14, 2017 2:46 PM  

I guess Tolkien understood how evil elites think, even if he found it as mad as the rest of us.

If the elites had a choice of everyone having their own free energy flying car with them being 100 times better off than common people or living in a penthouse overtop horse/buggy level tech peons they would chose the latter every time. The distance above the commoners makes stupid commoners more desirable for them. For them it is like getting to play poker with suckers every time.

The dwarf tunnels did already exist, the dwarves do have tunneling magic, and the men did suffer from the process of travelling through dwarfland.

Even the functioning dwarf train ride was unpleasant for Lodi & the deep dwarf while they were on it alone until they picked up company.

Anonymous Just another commenter January 14, 2017 3:16 PM  

@53 - No, I didn't miss the guides. But given that the XVII Legion had tunneled out of places themselves before, and Lodi & his partner didn't tunnel into the dragon cave (which seems to me to have been a safer path if they had super-excellent stealth tunnel-magic), and the only problems noted was squinting in sunlight and pallid, and (I know people who work in real mines) considering the problem of good ventilation - especially with thousands of guys breathing, eating, and defecating - it would have been noted... unless there was a lot more dwarf tunnel-magic and existing tunnels than was stated (and I didn't see a lot of it implied, either, so I had to guess/assume it was there). No, I haven't read any other books set in Selonoth other than "The Last Witchking."

Seriously, though: if that's the biggest problem I can find in a book that long, and it's a criticism that would be explained by other books in the same universe, it's pretty small potatoes compared to the gaping chasms in plot-line, universe consistency, and character development that I typically see in epic fantasy. Indeed, it's the huge plot-holes which are easily pointed out that has greatly limited my reading of fantasy in the last few decades: little of it was worth reading. ATOB most definitely is.

Anonymous VFM 6184 January 14, 2017 5:29 PM  

Fair point, I remember a mention of plantations near the sea of Rhun.

Obviously in the books all that we get to see is the spear at the end of the long logistics train.

Anonymous VFM 6184 January 14, 2017 5:37 PM  

OK, so it has been years since I read ATOB, which I very much enjoyed. As of a few minutes ago I am 5℅ into ASOS on Kindle:. I can tell already that you have gotten better at your craft, the pacing and prose has pulled me into the story immediately, and without any jarring.

I *did* have plans for this evening that didn't include a binge read. Emphasis on "did". Dammit.

Anonymous llsepher January 14, 2017 5:58 PM  

I shouldn't have taken your advice so lightly. I jokingly shrugged off the writing advice of the greatest Science Fiction author of my time.

Blogger GreenEyedJinn January 14, 2017 7:17 PM  

2/3 through ATOB.

I've heard Pepe' thinks it's better. I like Pepe'. Be like Pepe'.

Blogger Doug Cranmer January 14, 2017 7:39 PM  

Lmfao.

Blogger MycroftJones January 14, 2017 8:07 PM  

It was 3 years ago or so that I first accepted one of your "Free Kindle" offers. Last week I sat down and actually READ them. Selenoth may not be up to Tolkien standards, but they are way above Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan standards. I will happily purchase the paperback version of your Selenoth books. Intriguing universe, believable characters, good element of surprise and the unexpected.

On a related note, you mention Saruman's flip being hard to believe, lacking motivation. As a person at the social level of hobbit, not elf, I can't speak to motivation. But I CAN speak to believability. At the time of Tolkien, the Oxford/Cambridge crowd had traitors like Kim Philby going over to the Orcs. Also, from their point of view, hobbits and orcs were essentially the same. Orcs were just "exotic" forms of hobbit. Why should they care; they saw no genetic linkage between themselves and the hobbit class; who cares if the hobbit class is replaced with orcs from the Levant and from the "Diamand in the British Crown". Saruman saw no link between himself and the hobbits. He had his own carefully controlled environment filled with people who bowed and scraped to him; what would he care about the little people? They were down there, in the mines. He had his ivory tower. Until suddenly the barbarians came and overthrew him, because he cut off the genetic branch he was sitting on.

Blogger MycroftJones January 14, 2017 8:10 PM  

The man who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace" was a former slaver, and polygamist. Then he became an abolitionist. Has it occured to anyone, he became an abolitionist because he saw the influx of blacks into England, in the form of servants/slaves, and was trying to put an end to it by removing the motivation for importing them? I've seen recent documentation that as far back as 400 years ago, Englishmen were complaining about the influx of blacks, and how much sexual attention the English women were paying to them.

Blogger Didact January 14, 2017 8:13 PM  

Thank you for the linkage and the props, Vox, they are much appreciated.

Personally I am very much looking forward to the completion of ASOS. From what I've read so far, if what you've written and edited all by yourself is any indication, the final work will be superb.

That being said, the release of SJWADD this year is, in the grand scheme of things, probably the more important one, given the impact that its predecessor had on the broader culture and the alt-Right.

Blogger Didact January 14, 2017 8:13 PM  

Such positive reviews bid fair to cause more than a few SF-SJWs to stroke out.

True. Not that this is a bad thing, of course...

Blogger Joshua_D January 14, 2017 8:13 PM  

I really liked the Dark Tower Series, but I read them in high school, so my opinion may have changed in the past couple of decades. I think the story was very interesting and there were a lot of great twists and turns along the way and some pretty interesting characters. But yeah, like 5343 Kinds of Deplorable said, the ending sucked ... hard. It was the worst part of the book, and I don't think I read any more Stephen King after reading that ending. I was was pretty pissed.

Blogger Knight Of the Realm January 14, 2017 8:37 PM  

Read every King work up to an including IT with mixed results . For me IT was just twisted, crude and poorly written; I resolved to spend my time reading a better quality writer. The Dark Tower series came out afterwards so I have no opinion of it.
Currently reading ATOB enjoying the characters and the overall experience, will do an Amazon review when completed.

Blogger The Overgrown Hobbit January 15, 2017 12:33 AM  

For those who want to wait to read the whole series before it's out, may I recommend purchasing the instalments as they're released?

Pour encourager les autres

Anonymous bruce January 15, 2017 1:49 PM  

'whom would actually WANT to serve Sauron?'
'let's not get into the whole squadron of eagles to Mount Doom'

Nobody WANTS to serve Sauron, not even the orcs. Sauron rules by terror. He terrorizes Saruman in the backstory. (I think by the crystal balls, same as the Minas Trith boss, but over a longer span). The whole 'sneak into Mordor' is because any open run to to Mount Doom would be crushed by Sauron's overwhelming superiority in power- if they tried a squadron of eagles, he'd start by sending ten squadrons of pterodactyls, but he'd always have his greater magic power.
Sauron is Lucifer- strongest of the angels gone bad. Everyone else is radically weaker, even if they all team up. Except God, who might send the Messiah, who may tarry.

Anonymous VFM 6184 January 15, 2017 7:27 PM  

Linden and Crewaldus. Nice touch.

Blogger JLanceCombs January 19, 2017 12:12 PM  

"I just said that Vox Day has written a book that is nearly as good as J. R. R. Tolkien's work."

Damn, son!

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